Media Coverage

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Software firm to provide clean water to village in India

March 22, 2017

BEDFORD — Kentico Software, a company headquartered in the Czech Republic with an office in Bedford, is teaming up to provide clean water to an Indian village. 

Kentico Software powers 25,000 websites across dozens of countries, and is now donating web design software for Planet Water Foundation, and helping the nonprofit organization install a public water filtration system in Palla, India, as part of World Water Day on Wednesday. 

In an effort to increase awareness of the global water crisis, Planet Water Foundation’s Project 24 will install 24 clean water filtration systems known as AquaTowers in 24 communities across five countries — in one day. 

Kentico Software, teaming up with Raybiztech, is one of several companies helping with Project 24. Each AquaTower project costs about $15,000 to deploy to villages in Cambodia, Colombia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

“Kentico is very eco-friendly and eco-conscious. This particular project made sense,” said Eric Webb, Kentico’s vice president of sales for North America. 

Webb, who opened Kentico’s Bedford office in 2015, said the local facility employs about 35 workers. The Bedford location includes a sales department, public relations and marketing department, consulting division and technical support department. 

“We pretty much operate independently from the corporate office in the Czech Republic,” said Webb, adding all of the company’s development of software is maintained at its headquarters. 

Listed as one of Business NH Magazine’s fastest growing companies a few years back, Webb said Kentico continues to expand. 

“We are finding a lot of success here. We are continually growing,” he said. “We have seen an average of 25 to 30 percent growth year-over-year for the past five years.” 

With about 8,000 clients worldwide, roughly 70 percent of the company’s revenue is out of North America, according to Webb. 

“It’s one thing to bring business software into the world, but it is something altogether different to bring fresh drinking water to a village of several thousand people for the very first time,” Petr Palas, Kentico’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Kentico is honored to be associated with a project of such humane intent.” 

Ajay Ray, managing director of Raybiztech, a solutions partner with Kentico, said his company is delighted to join hands with Kentico to contribute toward World Water Day. “Now, clean drinking water will be available in many backward villages in India,” Ray said in a statement.

According to Mark Steele, founder and CEO of Planet Water Foundation, AquaTowers solves many problems for disadvantaged communities in parts of the world where water supply is not the issue, but rather water contamination that makes people sick. 

“One of our larger goals with Project 24 is to offer greater visibility into different types of water quality issues that we collectively work to mitigate,” Steele said in a release, thanking companies like Kentico for assisting in the initiative and being committed to corporate and social responsibility around water and hygiene education efforts. 

khoughton@newstote.com

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Come forth the headless horseman of CMS

March 20, 2017

Well known in folklore across Europe and the US, the headless horseman is set to be brought back by the CMS industry in the form of the headless CMS.

A recent rise in the need for higher scalability and agility has led people to start looking at deploying their CMS to the cloud.

Additionally, with the multitude of devices and platforms currently available and requiring content, the headless architecture – rather than a sign of impending doom, is being viewed as the modern answer to these problems.

The future is a multichannel world

Most marketers these days are using some form of traditional CMS. Displaying content on websites and utilizing analytics tools to gather information about visitors are very common scenarios and perfectly fine, for the most part.

But a traditional CMS might not be able to cope with what is to come in the near future.

A 2016 report by Deloitte shows that almost two-thirds of UK adults have access to a tablet, while smartphone penetration hit 81% of the population – with 31% of smartphone users saying they didn’t make voice calls in a given week.

Add to these items the advancements in bots, digital assistants, virtual reality, augmented reality, IoT, and more, and you begin to see that merely creating content for websites, whether through responsive design or not, is no longer enough.

If a marketer really wants to have an influence on a user’s customer journey, they need to start interacting with the user across all channels. Marketing requires a more flexible approach to its content delivery and needs to be structured in a way that allows for multiple delivery layouts.

Stop thinking of a “web page” and start thinking of the elements on the page, such as title, subtitle, description, images, right through to pricing, checkboxes, CTA buttons, and so on, which can be displayed on any device in any layout.

These are all important elements in the customer journey and with the headless approach you are assured that they can be displayed for your customers anywhere and everywhere.

Off with its head

As the digital market has been maturing, we have seen web pages get bigger, faster, and more elegant and user friendly. And throughout all of that, a traditional CMS was used in conjunction with a templating engine to render the pages. This is the “head” of the CMS and determines the presentation layout of the content.

It stands to reason that for more device types and more displays, all we need are more templates, right? Wrong.

Just as it would have been impossible to predict the widespread adoption of the mobile devices we are currently seeing, it is just as impossible to anticipate what might come in the next 20 years. Adding more engines and more layers will just create an uncontrollable beast.

The solution is simple: separate the head from the body. In other words, let the CMS do what it is designed to do—be the content repository and management tool for the content you write—and let your team of developers just concentrate on what they are good at—building the applications for the channels you need.

Then, instead of the CMS rendering the content, you simply call its API to retrieve the content and it then fits to whatever application layout has been determined for the display.

Think of all the elements mentioned earlier, such as title, description, and so on, as individual modules. Take each module and figure out how you want it displayed. So you no longer take an entire web page and try to manipulate it to the device, but rather take the individual modularized content elements and piece them together for the device you want.

And, on top of that, those pieces of modular content only need to be written once and they can then be used on any display and in any layout you want.

Traditional CMS tries to move to the cloud

Many people in the CMS industry can already see the advantages of cloud deployments. But there are a lot of different approaches being taken.

There has been an increase in the number of traditional CMS providers that have taken their platform and dropped it in the cloud. Sure, it removes the on-premise server infrastructure, but your development teams will still need to take care of the installation, maintenance, upgrades, and everything that normally goes along with an on-premise CMS.

A solution to that might be to use a managed hosting service. In this scenario, your CMS is hosted in the cloud and the vendor manages your installation. Sounds great!

But the key here is that the vendor needs to manage each installation on its own. If there are upgrades to be done, they need to do it for each installation. It is effectively just moving the inefficiencies away from your developers to the vendor. Doesn’t sound so great now, does it?

What you really need is a model that has automated CMS maintenance like the Platform as a Service (PaaS) model. In this model, a traditional CMS platform is reworked in the cloud so that all upgrades and maintenance are automatically applied to all installations at the same time.

However, because most traditional CMSs were designed with on-premise hosting environments in mind, doing it this way soon leads to problems as some functionality starts to fail. For example:

Some of the plugins that you use, for instance, for analytics, or email marketing, may not work in the cloud environment.

Certain customization options that your development team have implemented might only work in an on-premise model. When the vendor makes updates to the platform in the cloud, your customizations might get damaged, as the CMS was not designed with this in mind.

After every upgrade and hotfix, your team will still need to spend time ensuring everything is working correctly before being able to get back to their day-to-day work.

This all means that PaaS is still not the most elegant or efficient solution. And, for marketers and developers that need to be on top of their game, that will make a big difference.

The solution is a CMS designed from the ground up to work in the cloud—a cloud-first CMS. Combine that with headless architecture, and you will feel like you’re back in control of your CMS.

Time to lose your head in the cloud

In a fast-paced, multi-channel world that requires immediate results and increased ROI and revenue, as well as the desire to deliver the “perfect” customer journey, a cloud-first headless CMS is the guiding light for marketers.

With a modularized content approach in this architecture, you only need to create content once and it can be displayed on multiple devices—vastly increasing the speed and efficiency of your content production. Typically, larger projects can be cut from months to weeks.

This agility also means that marketers have ultimate control over the channels in which they want to advertise. No longer will you be restricted by trying to fit a certain page template to a new and different device.

And just imagine how much easier life will be when you don’t need to worry about all the upgrades, maintenance, and hotfixes of a traditional CMS. With a cloud-first headless CMS, the vendor takes care of all of the headaches, meaning your budget and resources can be spent on more important things.

Many major vendors are already working on developing cloud-first headless CMSs, while the pioneers are already out there in the marketplace available for purchase today. So while the industry might be taking a headless approach, early adopters have certainly got their heads screwed on.\

Stephen Griffin is Product Marketing Manager at Kentico.

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Ad blocking: a threat or opportunity for retailers?

March 14, 2017

By: Duncan Hendy 

In 2015 alone, it was estimated that $21.8 billion was lost in advertising revenue due to ad blocking technology. As the popularity of apps that actively reduce the visibility of advertising people see online grows, what does the future hold for retailers across Australia wishing to grow brand awareness and reach new customers?

To answer this question, it is necessary to look at the reason for the existence of ad block technology in the first place. It’s no secret that advertising brings money. However, over the last decade, a large number of websites began overloading their pages with advertising. This means that the online ad world has become noisy, intrusive and rather irritating. It is like going to the cinema and seeing advertising slots as long as the film itself that occur intermittently, disrupting the film with unrelated content.

This means retail marketers across Australia are going to have to rethink their advertising strategy. Instead of being part of the unwelcome noise, advertising today should be about re-establishing contact with a retailer’s target audience. People are far less likely to object to seeing adverts if they are relevant to them or their lifestyle. What they don’t appreciate is content they can’t or don’t want to relate to—for instance, promotions for a new season of European-inspired business wear (with a high price point) appearing on a youth-orientated pop culture website.

In order to reach potential customers in today’s increasingly fragmented digital environment, retailers need to think about how they make their content meaningful, personalised and relevant from the outset. That means gaining in-depth insights into customers, including the brands they love, the places they go, even the sports team they support—it’s all relevant. Retailers need to begin their approach by asking: “Where do I get information about customers that I can use to personalise their experience and use as an input to my digital strategy?”

The advent of ad blocking technology should not be feared by local retailers; it actually presents real opportunities for savvy industry professionals who know how to leverage data to stand out from the crowd. Because, if everything else is blocked and only they are getting through, their store is going to get more visibility.

Breaking it down

Segmentation is vital to properly understand your customer base. Unfortunately, many retail marketers still segment by age, gender, income, etc.—demographic data that isn’t relevant anymore. It doesn’t matter if people are 16 or 65, they may still like the same Facebook pages. Retailers need to rethink how they segment their audience. They need to think about what data they are using to identify if a certain person falls into a segment or not. They cannot rely on a single source for data anymore.

It is important to remember that many ad blockers are commercially driven and have their own business model. Not all of the solutions on the market are on a moral crusade to protect consumers from unwelcome content. In fact, many ad blockers offer a whitelisting service that means if a retailer pays enough money, the ad blocker will let their ad get through.

Speak to me

Australian retailers should not automatically be afraid of ad blocking. If they provide content that the audience wants to consume, then the audience is far less likely to block them. It’s also important to remember that online advertising is not the only way to get content to a relevant audience.

A huge trend, especially with generation Z, is using messenger apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Retail brands can reach out to their audiences through these apps. Normally the app asks when someone is creating their account what their hobbies etc. are. Based on this, the user agrees to receive third-party ads as long as they are relevant to them based on the criteria they have specified. These ads do not have to be in the form of a banner.

For example, when a user is chatting with their friend about a shirt they saw on the high street, a brand can use artificial intelligence to send a message telling the customer that a similar item is on sale in a certain online store. The bot is adding something that is relevant to both the user and the chat. The bot recommends a product not only based on what it knows about the user from their social profile but also based on the context of the discussion they are having at that precise moment in time.

Build a community, not just a brand

In order to engage with customers today, it is no longer enough to promote or build a brand; rather, retailers should be focusing on how they can build their own online community. People respond positively when they feel there is a sense of community around a brand online. Reviews of products and services, social media share buttons, forums, and a blog with the possibility to add comments are especially important. And to deliver these services, retailers need to have the right online marketing platform in place that actively supports their digital community.

If a consumer wants to talk about a business, and they feel they can connect with other like-minded people around a brand to discuss topics and products that are relevant to them, the level of engagement and the way that company is perceived in the community are enhanced. This should be the ultimate goal of creating a personalised online experience for consumers—happy, engaged customers who become brand advocates in their own right. And there is no ad blocker in the world today that can filter out that.

It’s time to get creative

Whatever the general opinion on ad blocking is, the positive outcome is that it is forcing retailers to rethink the way they approach their content. It is no longer sensible to bombard audiences with irrelevant ads that, rather than engage, actively dissuade a potential customer from connecting with a brand.

To outsmart the ad blockers, retailers must communicate to their potential customers on a wavelength that connects with them on a personal level. After all, if advertising is smart and engaging, people will welcome it more. And if that means retailers are more creative in the way they tell their stories, that in itself has to be a good thing.

Duncan Hendy is the content strategy manager at Kentico Software.

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An Interview on Digital Marketing

February 27, 2017

The innovations and emergence of digital marketing technology we have seen in the last few years has changed the scope drastically of what’s possible. For this reason, I was excited to have a conversation with James (Jim) Panagas, currently the Director of PR and Analyst Relations at Kentico Software, to chat about the current market and what he feels we’ll see more of in the future of digital marketing and customer experience. 


Given James’ extensive experience in the marketing world, he has watched it evolve first hand from print ads and design, to an array of technology that is now being improved exponentially with the push into the cloud. Gone are the days of upgrades being formatted in hard copy and shipped out to customers, now we are seeing updates go live almost instantaneously. But, he used the analogy that end users are trying to drink from a fire hose essentially, with the vast amount of technology and upgrades hitting the market and the occurrence of only a small percentage of the true capacity is being utilized.  

The New Marketer is a Technologist

A great point he made, was how the job description of the common marketer is changing, they are becoming what he called “marketing technologists” as the advent of drag and drop technology is one of the things allowing marketers to rely less and less on developers, and the need to be proficient in all types of marketing technology is required in many positions today. The trend is not receding anytime soon either, as Venus mentioned in her article, Marketing Technology Adoption and Investment in 2017, Gartner’s 2016-2017 CMO spend survey suggests that in 2017, CMO marketing tech spending is on track to exceed the CIO technology spend. 

This is also creating a circumstance where the innovation could be surpassing the available skills, James mentioned he doesn’t think that talent pool is deep enough. Having previously worked in the higher education sector myself, I always wonder if this trend will begin to show itself in the evolution of business and marketing education, to better prepare newcomers into the field with the skills the market currently demands. Also, therein lies the opportunity for those already in the workforce to make the choice to expand their skillset to appeal to the more technological need, while not losing sight of the basics of a good marketer. James emphasizes that point: “It’s a pendulum swinging and right now the marketing pendulum is swinging way over to the technology side, I believe though that over time it will swing back because you need both sets of skills to really be an effective marketer. I certainly want people who can write, and who can appreciate good design and can run these technologies”

Personalization Playbook

2016 was a big year for personalization, we covered numerous players in the CMS industry adding it to their offering through acquisitions or expansions but it is necessary to ensure marketing remains effective, as we move forward into an ever connected world. This connection is what James feels should be utilized in order to succeed.

There are common and very obvious missteps that occur, like a recommendation engine continuously suggesting a product that has been purchased, or receiving a pitch for a product that in no way fits into our life or buying patterns. Even something as simple as receiving a sales call from an organization with whom you’ve specified you were not a sales opportunity can be annoying, James wonders if there is a lack of care or simply a glaring disconnect. 

These are all easily avoidable if the strides are taken to effectively personalize an approach. James predicts we’ll see the tentacles of the common digital marketing system grow longer, to allow a much more complete picture of customers and prospects by taking a deep dive into the information from complimentary systems like the CRM system, finance system, sales platforms etc. 

Reminder Marketing

Another prediction from James is the advancement of voice interaction and recognition becoming omnipresent in the digital marketing world, following the lead of Amazon Alexaand Siri that in addition to a more keen sense of interaction and accuracy, will usher in the age of “reminder marketing”. With the growth of IoT resulting in smarter devices all around us in our every day life, more and more we’ll have products suggested by way of reminders like “you’re out of laundry detergent” or “your sister’s birthday is coming up”,with the resulting purchase and acquisition of goods becoming almost effortless. 

In an earlier discussion, James highlighted that as marketing shifts to a more receptive and anticipatory medium, it will shed a lot of its sometimes intrusive nature and be much more welcomed as a way to make your life easier, as opposed to feeling like you’re being sold to at every turn. He emphasized that the onus is still on organizations to use the technology responsibly however, and ensure any and all interactions with their customers are always positive and above all, ethical. 

The Cycle is Closing In. 

James highlighted the pace of innovation happening across the board in technology, with the cycles of product evolution getting shorter and shorter. He used the example of a car phone, becoming a flip phone, to now a smart phone, seeing how quickly that happened and how faster still other enhancements are becoming a reality. Its exciting, and he predicts more and more we will see intelligence creating these ideas, developers bringing them to life and organizations putting them to use but to echo the final thought James left me with in our discussion, we can’t lose the human element in all of this technology so keeping that interaction and trust, alive and well will be the true task. 

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Interview with Peter Palas, CEO of Kentico

February 27, 2017

Please introduce yourself and your position with Kentico.

I'm the founder of Kentico Software, one of the leading CMS vendors. I started Kentico in 2004 with a vision of making content management easier for both developers and business users. Over the past 13 years, we grew into one of the leading vendors with 230 employees and a partner network of over 1,000 digital agencies in 80 countries that use our products to create websites and online stores with a personalized digital experience. We're headquartered in the Czech Republic, with sales and support offices in the United States, UK, Australia, and the Netherlands.

Please tell us a bit about your product and its latest release.

We launched our completely new product Kentico Cloud in November at our user conference in Las Vegas. It's a cloud-first headless CMS. Cloud-first means that it was built as a true multitenant SaaS product from the very beginning. We take care of the CMS, including its upgrades, security, performance, etc. As a result, customers can focus on developing their applications and managing their content. Headless means that you store all the content in our cloud-based content hub and you can use it through our API on any channel—on your website, in your mobile app, or even in your chatbot. Since we provide a standard REST API, you can use your favorite platform and programming language to build your applications.

What do you think businesses need to keep in mind when selecting a platform?

They should certainly start with their business needs and look how the CMS supports them today, but also how it fits the latest trends. Many traditional CMS products were built for managing web pages, but we have seen a growth in the use of mobile, virtual reality, IoT, etc., which requires a more granular content model so that you can reuse that content across channels. The other major trend we see is a growing need to be more agile—companies want to launch new projects in a matter of weeks, not months, so they are increasingly looking for cloud-based solutions.

What makes Kentico the go-to choice for the enterprise?

Actually, Kentico Cloud aims to support a broad range of customers—from small to enterprise. You can start with a free plan and upgrade it when needed. For the enterprise customers, we provide a strong product as well as all the extras they need for mission-critical projects, like 24x7 support provided by our experts on three continents, SLAs, training, consulting, and a dedicated customer success manager who takes care of their onboarding and long-term success. Plus, they can choose from a growing number of Kentico Cloud partners—digital agencies who can build the projects for them if they do not have an in-house development team.

What do you consider to be the biggest trend for CX vendors in 2017?

We already see vendors moving to the cloud, and that will continue in 2017. However, most traditional CMS or CX vendors just take their existing products that were built for the on-premise world and offer them as managed hosting or PaaS, which is certainly not the most efficient model. We expect more customers are looking for true SaaS CMS options, which will give rise to new cloud-first headless CMS offerings.

How is Kentico positioned to be at the forefront of these trends?

We've been preparing for this for a couple of years as we always believed the cloud is the future. Our experience with the cloud started back in 2011 when we were the first CMS certified for Microsoft Azure. In the past two years, we built Kentico Cloud from scratch as we wanted to provide a true SaaS product and make sure it's ready for the multi-channel world we live in. At the same time, we leverage our experience, our skilled team, and the market presence we've built over the past years.

How do you see the market changing in the next five years?

I believe the CMS market is at just another inflection point. The cloud-first headless CMS will start replacing traditional CMS products as customers realize the benefits of the SaaS model. The vendors who don't make the shift to the new architecture and business model will disappear from the market. It will be similar to the shift from on-premise document management systems to cloud-based file sharing services. In five years from now, we will laugh at how we used to install and babysit a CMS.

What kind of evolution can we expect to see from Kentico?

We will continue enhancing our existing product, Kentico EMS, that fits well to customers who want a sophisticated all-in-one solution or do not feel ready for the cloud yet. At the same time, we will invest in the future and make progress with Kentico Cloud—we will grow its capabilities every week, and it will become a mature CMS during this year.

Final thoughts?

I would wrap up with a quote by Clayton Christensen, the author of Innovator's Dilemma, who said: "You may hate gravity, but gravity doesn't care." Cloud-first headless CMS is a major change for many, but it's inevitable. We're at the very beginning of a new era of the CMS industry. The vendors, customers, and digital agencies who adopt this model first will gain a competitive advantage by being more agile and ready for the new communication channels that will go mainstream in the upcoming years.

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Kentico Cloud - What’s It All About?

February 09, 2017

Are you tired of having a CMS that just doesn’t do what you want it to? Do you feel like you are just babysitting your CMS, taking care of the web servers, upgrades, hotfixes, backups, and constantly dealing with a growing list of plugins? Isn’t it frustrating when you have to rewrite your awesome code because your CMS just refuses to play nice? Are you tired of creating different versions of the same content to optimize it for various channels? Wish there was another way? Now, there is.

Kentico Cloud is the cloud-first headless CMS for digital agencies and their clients.

It’s Not Just a CMS Dropped into the Cloud

Many CMS vendors have caught onto the Cloud movement that is currently occurring. But what most do is simply to pick up their CMS and drop it into the Cloud. Sure, it works, but it lacks the elegance and agility of a truly cloud-first CMS. In fact, in 2013, we created Kentico+, which was just that—a CMS deployed in the Cloud—but we could not make it work efficiently for all users. We realized that if we wanted to provide agencies and their clients with all the benefits of the cloud, we needed to go back to the drawing board and rethink the entire CMS architecture.

Kentico Cloud is a completely new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product. By taking care of the service, it allows agencies and their clients to focus on what matters most—driving their business goals by creating truly wonderful digital experiences.

Manage All Your Content in the Cloud

Kentico Cloud works as a centralized content hub where you can produce all your structured content in one place. It provides customizable content types, taxonomy, site map, workflow, versioning, and comments—everything you need to work and collaborate on when creating your content.

Once the content is ready, you can either export it to your existing CMS (if you do not want to redesign the site) or use our content delivery API to publish the content directly on your website or in your mobile application.

Deliver Content to Any Website or Mobile Application

Kentico Cloud provides a super-fast API for developers to display the content on websites, mobile apps, IoT devices, and any other channel. It uses the headless approach, which means you have full control over your presentation layer.

As a developer, you can use our API on any platform, using any programming language, and with your favorite development tools—just the way you like it.

Provide a Personalized Experience

Kentico Cloud goes beyond content management. It allows you to personalize the content displayed to customers based on their profiles. It allows you to track customers on your website and personalize their experiences based on the data it collects. It can tell you which pages the customer visited, which forms they submitted, and what they bought. 

Unlike with traditional web analytics tools, Kentico Cloud also creates profiles of individual users with a complete history of their activities. You can then use it to personalize the content on your website or export the data to other systems.

Kentico Cloud—the Solution to Digital Agency Problems

Kentico Cloud is a set of fully integrated cloud services built from the ground up in the headless CMS architecture. As a hassle-free cloud platform that eliminates complex technology, Kentico Cloud helps agencies and their clients to be more productive while also increasing the scope of content delivery to any device or platform. Instead of wasting time looking after your CMS, put that time to greater effect and focus on delivering successful, profitable projects for your customers.

The Future Is Now

Stop babysitting your CMS and get started with Kentico Cloud now. It allows you to tackle the future of the digital landscape head on and gain a competitive advantage. From websites to virtual reality, bots to digital assistants, and augmented reality to Internet of Things devices, the possibilities are endless. Let Kentico Cloud make it easy for you—go to www.kenticocloud.com and sign up for a free trial.

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